Amid outrage over the Narendra Modi government keeping mum over sexual harassment allegations against Minister of State of External Affairs MJ Akbar, his colleague and Union Minister Smriti Irani said on Thursday that the women who have named him should get justice and it was for Akbar to speak on the issue.
When asked about if action was being taken against Akbar, Irani told ANI, "The gentleman concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue."
#WATCH: Union Minister Smriti Irani reacts on #MJAkbar, says 'The gentlemen concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues...Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked.' pic.twitter.com/nFam61Cn20— ANI (@ANI) October 11, 2018
Women don't go to work to be harassed. They go to work to live their dreams&earn a respectable living. I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get the justice that they deserve: Union Minister Smriti Irani on #MeToopic.twitter.com/3PbxHMt44w— ANI (@ANI) October 11, 2018
Irani's remarks come after Union Minister Maneka Gandhi had said on Wednesday that there should be a probe into the allegations.
"There should be an investigation. Men in position of power often do this. This applies to media, politics and seniors working in companies. Now that women have started speaking out, we should take it seriously," Maneka Gandhi reportedly told India Today when a reported asked about the allegations against a "big politician".
However, Akbar's senior in the external affairs ministry, Sushma Swaraj, has been silent on the issue. When she was asked about the accusations by a reporter right after accusations against Akbar began surfacing, Swaraj just walked away.
Several women have accused Akbar of harassing and assaulting them when he was a journalist. Senior journalist Priya Ramani was the first to name him on Twitter. She had written about him in an article in Vogue in 2017, but hadn't identified him then. Ghazala Wahab wrote a heart-wrenching account of her experience with Akbar forThe Wire.
Akbar, now a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, was the founding editor of The Telegraph, launched The Asian Age and has worked in several other media organisations. Reports say he is currently in Nigeria.